Bangladesh says British IS bride Shamima Begum not a citizen | News | DW | 20.02.2019
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Bangladesh says British IS bride Shamima Begum not a citizen

The Foreign Ministry in Dhaka has rejected any claim that British IS bride Shamima Begum might have rights to citizenship. The UK has moved to withdraw Begum's citizenship, in a move she has described as "a bit unjust."

British teenager Shamima Begum, who joined the "Islamic State" (IS) group in Syria in 2015, has no claim to Bangladeshi nationality, Dhaka's Foreign Ministry said Wednesday, after the UK government decided to revoke her citizenship.

Britain's Home Office reportedly believes Begum, who is of Bangladeshi heritage, is entitled to claim citizenship there.

Along with two friends, Begum left her home in east London to join IS four years ago at the age of 15. She is now living in a refugee camp in Syria, where she gave birth to her third child over the weekend. She has appealed to British authorities to show "compassion" by allowing her to raise the baby in Britain, but has expressed no regret over having joined IS.

Read more: Mosul: Where demons, women and 'Islamic State' met

Shamima Begum (center) goes through security at Gatwick Airport with two other girls before flying to Turkey (picture-alliance)

Begum (center) went through security at Gatwick Airport with two other girls before flying to Turkey in 2015

"In order to protect this country, [the home secretary] has the power to deprive someone of their British citizenship where it would not render them stateless," said a spokeswoman for the UK Interior Ministry, adding it would not comment on individual cases.

Bangladesh's Foreign Ministry said there was "no question" of her being allowed into Bangladesh and it was "deeply concerned that she has been erroneously identified as a holder of dual citizenship shared with Bangladesh alongside her birthplace, the United Kingdom."

"She is a British citizen by birth and has never applied for dual nationality with Bangladesh," the ministry said.

'A bit shocked'

UK Interior Minister Sajid Javid told lawmakers on Wednesday that revoking citizenship was "a powerful tool" not used lightly.

"But when someone turns their back on [our] fundamental values and supports terror they don't have an automatic right to return to the UK," he said.

Begum told ITV at the Al Hol refugee camp in northeastern Syria that she was "a bit shocked" by the decision to revoke her UK citizenship.

Read more: As IS crumbles, Syrian Kurds want Germany to take back foreign fighters

"It's a bit upsetting and frustrating. I feel like it's a bit unjust on me and my son," she said. "My family made it sound like it would be a lot easier for me to come back to the UK."

Began said another option for her could be to apply for citizenship in Holland, the home country of her husband — an IS fighter believed to be held by Kurdish forces in Syria — where he has family.

"Maybe I can ask for citizenship in Holland. If he gets sent back to prison in Holland I can just wait for him while he is in prison," Begum said.

law/cmk (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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